UConn Health Study Shows CT Residents Don’t Understand Health Insurance Plans

Why have more Connecticut residents purchased health insurance, but then fail to get a primary care doctor or face high bills? To answer to this question, researchers at the Health Disparities Institute at UConn Health decided to research how well state residents understand their plans. A recent press release highlighted their results.
Approximately 516 Connecticut adults with a qualified healthcare plan through Access Health CT were asked questions about their coverage in a phone survey, conducted in 2016. In general, researchers found that many participants did not understand basic healthcare concepts and terminology, such as “premium,” “co-pay,” and “deductible”. More often than not, these were non-English speaking minorities or residents with low education levels.
More specifically, the following results were found:

  • Just over 60 percent were able to correctly answer questions about basic health insurance.
  • 20 percent didn’t understand the context of “premium”.
  • 66 percent were unfamiliar with the word “formulary”.
  • Roughly one-third could calculate their out-of-pocket costs between a deductible and co-pay.
  • Only 40 percent knew that an in-network hospital may not have in-network doctors.

In conclusion, those behind the study determined that individuals who do not fully understand their health insurance plans may have a harder time accessing care and avoiding administrative red tape. This group could have delays in treatment, denials in coverage and higher medical bills.
Researchers determined that health insurance literacy needs to be a top priority, since a basic plan can be a challenge for people of all education levels to understand. To implement this, they suggest having trained in-person navigators assist patients with understanding how to use their coverage.
“First, we need to start raising health insurance literacy to remove an important source of health disparity,” said Associate Director Dr. Victor Villagra, “but a more permanent solution would be removing complex language and convoluted rules from health insurance. Access to simpler, more consumer-friendly insurance plans should be a priority in order to achieve greater health equity for Connecticut citizens.”
Do you understand the scope of your health insurance coverage? For clarity, work with an agent at Ion Insurance to answer any questions you have. Give us a call at 203.439.2815 to get started.